The Duncan Banner


November 22, 2013

A moment that changed our nation forever

DUNCAN — Few events have shaken American citizens like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas.

It caused a change in what, until then, was a safe, secure, innocent, trusting lifestyle. It snuffed out the life of a charismatic, articulate leader who had a young, beautiful family and whose difficult decisions in tough times were adding to his support and popularity.

He was in Dallas to build momentum for a 1964 re-election campaign. His motorcade was open and inviting. Huge crowds that jammed sidewalks for a closer view were happy and excited.

Little did anyone know life for us all would change that afternoon.

Events surrounding the shooting and his death shocked an entire country, changed significantly the art of reporting news and created permanent, personal memories that remain vivid even today, 50 years later.

Duncan residents remember it well, recalling precisely where they were when news of the tragedy reached them.

Here is a sampling.

Attorney John Ray Green: I was walking across the campus at Oklahoma State, heading to my political science class. When I got there, the professor had already written a “Class canceled” note on the blackboard.

City councilman and dentist Mike Nelson: I was in the third grade at Irving Elementary. I lived across from the school so when Mr. Monsey (the principal) heard the president had been shot, he asked me to go home and see if my mom would let us have a radio. He put in on the intercom so we could all hear.

Municipal Judge George Sherrill: I was going to an electrical engineering class at Oklahoma State. We were stunned and we didn’t do anything that weekend but watch television.

Former Halliburton executive Jimmy Cooper: I was in a Halliburton car, coming back from doing an audit in Texarkana. I heard the news on a radio. In those days, Halliburton didn’t have radios in its cars so it was on my transistor radio that I hung from the rear view mirror.

Newspaper business manager Linda Rice: I was a freshman at Oceana High School in Pacifica, Calif., I had just left my general business class where my teacher was Mr. Kennedy. A lot of kids were in the hall saying, “Kennedy’s dead. Kennedy’s dead.” I told them “No, he’s not. I was just in his class.” It wasn’t until later she realized they were talking about the president.

Former Duncan Police Chief Dale Anderson: I was in the dispatch office at the old police department (on the south end of what is now the city administration building.). We were watching a small black-and-white TV and all we could tghinkj of was “what in the world is happening down there.”

Retired Judge George Lindley: I was heading into my dorm at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. A friend (Terry Stipp) yelled down from the third floor and said the president had been shot. I said bullxxxx. Then I just stood there. He (Stipp) taped all the radio broadcasts for a week.

Car salesman Joe Vermedahl: I was going into the library at the University of Iowa (in Iowa City). A girl, who had heard the news and was sobbing, pushed the door open so quickly she almost knocked me down.

District Judge Joe Enos: I was going from Mrs. Flanagan’s seventh grade geography class to the physical education and health class. It was fifth hour. We watched television all weekend. Retiree Paul Craig: I was in high school at Elk City. We only had one television in the entire school. It was in the library. When the news broke, they let classes out and we all went to the library to watch.

Retired teacher Marcella Kovar: I was doing my student teaching in the Elk City School District. I was teaching third grade. My supervisor pulled me out of class and told me. Everyone was quite. There was no talking at all.

Retired Judge Phil Leonard: I was in Gainesville, Texas. I was working as a landman in Oklahoma City at the time. I went to lunch and saw it on TV. I did what everyone else did that day. I didn’t go back to work. I got in my car and drove all the way back to Moore, Okla., where I was living at the time. My wife and I stayed in all weekend.

Duncan Public Library Director Jan Cole: I was in fourth grade at Velma-Alma Elementary School when Kennedy was shot. They announced over the loud speaker. And there was just kind of a stunned silence because we weren’t quite sure what all that meant. It was scary and confusing. We learned a new vocabulary word. And that word was “assassination.”

Vice chairman of the Southwest Oklahoma Railroad Association Rick Duncan: I was in college, freshman English class at Fresno City College in Fresno, Calif. I don’t remember how I learned of it, maybe the instructor told us.

Patsy Duncan (Rick’s wife): It was my senior year in high school (Corcoran, Calif.) and I was in the physiology lab. It was right after lunch. The boy who came in and told us was the class clown, Johnny Gregory. We kept waiting for the punch line and it took us the longest time to realize it wasn’t a joke.

The Duncans said it that with so much trauma in the world today, it might be difficult for today’s young people to understand how different the world was then.

“The assassination of President Kennedy occurred in a very calm and trauma free era. All was right with the world ... and suddenly all was terribly wrong and very confusing,” she said.

Text Only
  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 30, 2014

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.21.22 PM.png VIDEO: Dog 'faints' from excitement of seeing owner

    A reunion between a Pennsylvania woman who had been living overseas for two years and her pet schnauzer has gone viral, garnering nearly 20 million views on YouTube.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    This week FiveThirtyEight released the results of a poll of Americans' opinions on the "Star Wars" universe. Not surprisingly, Jar Jar Binks is the most reviled character in the series. As Walt Hickey notes, the Gungan from Naboo posted lower favorability numbers than Emperor Palpatine, "the actual personification of evil in the galaxy."

    July 23, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jimm's Egg Daybreak Diner Vs. Jimmy's Egg: Who takes home the bacon?

    Is Duncan big enough for two breakfast joints?

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014


Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

No. It's better in the summer cause kids are out of school.
Yes. More shoppers would come during nice fall weather.
Either time is fine.

     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.